Nebraska lawmakers strip cellphone keno out of casino bill

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A proposal to let people play keno on their mobile phones in Nebraska bars and keno parlors stalled abruptly on Monday after lawmakers stripped it out of a casino legalization bill.

Lawmakers voted 27-11 in the Legislature to remove the provision from a broader bill that would regulate Nebraska’s new casino industry. Voters legalized casinos in November despite opposition from prominent gambling opponents, including Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Voters didn’t directly address keno when they approved the constitutional amendment to allow casinos. But supporters argued that casinos will end up hurting the keno industry, which generates millions of dollars in tax revenue for Nebraska cities each year.

Under current state law, keno is still played with paper cards, while casinos offer flashier, computerized games.

Opponents of the keno measure countered that it goes beyond what voters approved, and they see it as a form of expanded gambling that will disproportionately hurt Nebraska’s poorest residents.